President Trump’s mention of “radical Islam” during his recent address to Congress has reignited the debate over the relationship between Islam and terrorism. Trump clearly rejects the dominant view of the Bush and Obama presidencies that terrorist acts committed by Muslims represent a “perversion” of Islam.
It was commonplace for the Obama administration to lecture us that the Islamic State was not Islamic. When ISIS beheaded three Western journalists, Western commentators insisted that these decapitations had nothing to do with Islam. They argued not only that such savagery was unrelated to Islam but also that it was contrary to Islam. Fort Hood and San Bernardino elicited the same response.
Two decades ago, my friend Andy McCarthy, the lead prosecutor in the trial of the late and unlamented “Blind Sheikh,” Omar Abdel Rahman, for his role in the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, confronted this issue as he built his case. Commentators portrayed Abdel Rahman as a wanton killer, claiming that by preaching that Islam summoned Muslims to jihad or holy war, he was lying about the “religion of peace.”